2 Bad Riddims: The Stalag versus The Sleng Teng

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stalag-sleng_teng

It’s brings me great pleasure to release this episode of the Reggae Lover Podcast which features two riddims that were suggested by my listeners: the Stalag version and the Sleng Teng rhythm. If you have ever been to a reggae dance or concert, you have definitely heard songs on one or both of these legendary riddim tracks which have had a dominating prominence in the dancehall for three decades.

I selected this 22 song playlist out of the hundreds of tunes that have been recorded over these versions. The mix is comprised mostly of the original cuts produced by Winston “Techniques” Riley and Lloyd ‘King Jammy’ James. Please submit playlist suggestions and feedback to ReggaeLoverPodcast@gmail.com.

In Jamaica, the Stalag version (or Stalag riddim) is a popular reggae rhythm, which came to prominence in the 1970s. It was originally written and performed as “Stalag 17” (named after the 1953 war film) by Ansell Collins, and released by Winston Riley‘s Techniques record label in 1973.

It was mainly used for dub instrumental versions, often b-sides of records. The rhythm also influenced early hip-hop, and can be discerned on Public Enemy’s hit ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ as well as on Too Short’s Blowjob Betty.

Sleng Teng is the name given to the first fully computerized riddim in Jamaican music. The riddim, which was created by the collaboration between King Jammy and Wayne Smith, was titled “Under Mi Sleng Teng“. Wayne Smith found the computerized sound in Noel Davey’s keyboard, and together he and Davey arranged the riddim, slowed it down, matched it to Smith’s key, and rehearsed on it with lyrics inspired by Barrington Levy’s “Under Mi Sensi” and Yellowman’s “Under me fat ting”, before taking it to Jammy’s studio in late 1984. The riddim itself is apparently an attempt to recreate Eddie Cochran’s 1959 rockabilly song “Somethin’ Else.” It is a pattern found in the Casio MT-40 home keyboard.

After the riddim was brought to the studio and Jammy heard it, he then slowed it further and placed piano and a clap on it. Jammy recorded a number of other artists on the original backing track including Tenor Saw (with “Pumpkin Belly”), and Johnny Osbourne (with “Buddy Bye”). The tunes were first unleashed at a now legendary soundclash between Jammy’s own sound system and Black Scorpio at Waltham Park Road on February 23, 1985.

Stalag 17 Playlist

1 Frankie Paul – Don’t Worry Yourself – Volcano
2 General Echo – Arlene – Techniques
3 Admiral Tibett – Trouble To A Man – Techniques
4 Little Kirk – Whats Love Got To Do – Techniques
5 Yami Bolo – Take It Easy – Techniques
6 Cocoa Tea – We Do The Killing – Digital B
7 Super Beagle – Soundboy Dust Out – Techniques
8 Tenor Saw and Buju Banton – Ring The Alarm Quick – Techniques
9 Sister Nancy – Bam Bam – Techniques
10 Cutty Ranks – Rude Bwoy Game – Techniques
11 Nicodemus – Suzy Wong – Skengdon

Sleng Teng Playlist

1 Wayne Smith – Under Me Sleng Teng – Jammys
2 Tenor Saw – Pumpkin Belly – Jammys
3 Echo Minott – Original Fat Ting – Jammys
4 Buddy Bye – Johnny Osbourne – Jammys
5 Josey Wales – Cowboy Style – Jammys
6 Yelloman – Reggae Ambassador – Jammys
7 Tony Curtis – Weak – John John
8 Anthony Red Rose – Under Me Fat Ting – King Tubbys
9 John Wayne – Call The Police For Me – Jammys
10 Super Cat – Trash and Ready – Jammys
11 Frankie Paul – Cassandra – Steely and Clevie

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6 comments on “2 Bad Riddims: The Stalag versus The Sleng Teng

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